Consumers: Such Contemptable Creatures

January 6, 2009 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: marketing.

I’ve always had a problem with the term “consumer”; it’s so simple, so final, such a singularity. Producers produce and consumers consume. And that’s it. It’s like a linear process that is like dumping something on a short conveyor belt and seeing it drop off at the other end.

Personally I prefer the term “customer”. If you produce something great and make people aware of it then you earn their custom. Your product or service gains a good reputation for quality, service or benefits to the customer, and the lifecycle is completed by after service. It’s a far more human-oriented, thoughtful and holistic way of going about business. There’s a two-way relationship there and it’s what you call a “win-win” situation.

So what’s the problem with Coca-Cola then? I’ve just been made aware of the story that Fanta has 300 times the amount of pesticide permitted in tap water! Fanta, a soft drink from the Coca-Cola company, was analysed in a study and found to contain “very high” levels of pesticides at levels “up to 300 times” the level allowed in bottled or tap water.

Whilst Coca-Cola say that their products are safe you might be concerned that your carbonated orange beveredge contains ingredients such as carbendazim, thiabendazole, imazalil, prochloraz, malathion and iprodione. These are all chemical pesticides applied to fruit crops to prevent fungal infections and rot.  So no organic endorsements by the Soil Association then?

Fanta boasts some bizarre "benefits"If you click on the photo ( © Daily Mail) for a closer look at the product, you’ll see all manner of proposed benefits emblazoned on Fanta cans…

  • “Great Taste”
  • “30% Less Sugar”
  • “No Artificial Colours”
  • “Made with Real Fruit Juices”

That’s reassuring isn’t it? Where’s the boast “300% More Pesticides” , “Contains Artificial Preservatives” or “Contains Artificial Sweeteners”?

You’d hope that the British public are becoming increasingly aware of the bizarre, unnatural and potentially harmful additives that are being pumped into their foodstuffs these days, but people are often too busy or too lazy to care or simply unaware and they often expect that they are protected by law from being poisoned by the people they pay for their food & drink.

I do my best to steer clear of anything I know has artificial ingredients or is mass-produced and this case highlights my avoidance of producers that I feel to be unethical too. If I want a carbonated orange drink then I’d expect organic orange, water, natural sweetener and bubbles. To know that there are some insidious chemicals in my drink, not to mention the controversial sugar-replacement Aspartame, really damages my faith in the big players in the food & drink industry.

Medieval Brits supplemented their liquid intake with beer because it was safer than water. And now you know why I drink tea and ale, maybe you should drop the Fanta and see that your kids have a nice cup of cha instead.

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